Health & Wealth Archives

sugar_craving2

Sugar craving

Some sugar craving is okey because we need sugar for existence. It only becomes a problem when you want to eat sweets most of the time.

If you just can’t resist a chocolate bar or a pack of cookies, you know what a sugar craving is. It can be very strong as sugar is addictive.

I know a few effective ways to diminish your cravings or stop them completely. These have been tested by at least 12 people (including kids with extreme sugar cravings) with great results.

Let’s first look what may cause sugar craving.

1. If you are bored you may feel an urge for sugar.

Solution: Brush your teeth or focus on 10min stretches, exercises or alike.

2. Coffee, tea or energy drinks may trigger sugar cravings as they deplete the body of magnesium and contribute to calcium exertion.

Solution: Quit caffeine drinks or diminish their amount.

3. When you don’t eat enough throughout day or work, the dip in your blood sugar level causes you to crave something as you are hungry. Sugar feels the most attractive, because it will give a quick surge of energy. It won’t last, though, and you would need another chocolate bar soon.

Solution: Eat small meals every 3-4 hours which include proteins and carbs (say, cheese and bread sticks). The amount of proteins depends on your speed of metabolism. As a fast calorie burner, you need a substantial amount of protein throughout a day. As a slow calorie burner you need less proteins and more carbs.

A quick test to know the speed of your calorie burning is to look at two things. First, become aware how you feel after a carb’s meal, say pasta with a salad. Are you soon hungry or are you filled for the next hours? Secondly, what is your usual tendency, are you too warm or too cold? If you are too cold and soon hungry after a carb’s meal, your burning will tend to be fast.

The best is when proteins vary.  Include a protein shake (plant based Sunwarrior  shakes are great to go!), cottage cheese or cheese, sausage, ham, eggs, fish (tuna, salmon, cod, sardines, etc), or yogurt.

4. Fluctuating blood sugars may cause sugar cravings.

Solution: Stabilize  your blood sugar levels by eating food high in the trace element chromium.  Chromium encourages receptor sites on cells to be more sensitive to insulin which carries glucose into the cells for energy production.

A very effective is almond butter, followed by peanut butter. Almond butter, though more expensive, is usually better tolerated. East a spoon of almond butter once or twice daily. Broccoli, baked beans, whole grains, grape juice and mashed potatoes provide chromium in a decent amount. Other foods include apples, artichokes, bananas, corn, garlic, mushrooms, prunes, sweet potatoes and oats.

Herbs: nettle, red clover, sarsaparilla, thyme, yarrow, wild yam.

 5. According to traditional Chinese medicine, sugar craving is often a sign of imbalance of various trace minerals. This can be corrected by eating bitter-tasting foods. Examples are leafy green vegetables such as kale,  mustard greens, dandelion greens, lettuce, parsley, and celery. Also endive, chicory, turnip, radish, kohlrabi or asparagus are also there.

Herbs: nettle, dandelion, milk thistle, oregon grape, gentian root, angelica root. Also Swedish bitters can be taken for a short time (1 month) or a long time when prescribed by an herbalist.

6. Sweet cravings are explained by Victoria Boutenko as an insufficient intake of calcium. Calcium is sweet. And even though you may think you drink milk and eat vast amounts of diary, there is more and more evidence that calcium from milk may not as easily be absorbed as we want to believe. Moreover, the mucus forming feature of milk as well as pasteurization may make milk more problematic for our health (see e.g. at the study which shows that pasteurized milk has a carcinogenic effect).

Solution: Sesame seeds (and especially black sesame seeds) are the best source of calcium. The easiest way to eat them is to stir fry them and add plenty to your rice / pasta / grain /meat dishes. Black sesame seeds have a nutty flavor. Kids like them too. Another way is to add them to your protein or green smoothie shakes. Black sesame seeds act powerfully on many organs in the body. They strengthen the liver and kidneys, as well as heart, spleen and lungs. They act as a general tonic in the body, balancing the endocrine system. See also this post.

Sesame seeds contain a high amount of the anti-nutrient phytic acid. Therefore, as any seed, they have to be soaked or pan roasted before eating. The best way is to soak them overnight (they need 4-8h) and lightly pan roast before grinding. Additional grinding makes them more digestible, but is not necessary.

Soaking

  • Measure 1 cup of sesame seeds. Rinse it. 
  • Put the sesame seeds into a bowl. Add 2 cups of water.
  • Cover your bowl with a cotton towel or other breathable fabric. Let it stand in room temperature for 4h.
  • Drain the water out of your sesame seeds. Rinse them.
  • Return the seeds to the bowl and add 2 cups of water. Cover the bowl.  Soak it in the room temperature for the next 4h.
  • Drain the water out of your sesame seeds. They are ready to eat.

You can simplify the above procedure by soaking the seeds 8h straight without additional rinsing.

Roasting

Stir-fry the sesames seeds in a dry pan over low heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the heat releases their fragrance. Avoid burning the seeds. You can also roast them in butter or ghee.

In summary

We have looked at possible causes of sugar cravings and the rectifying solutions. Now it’s the time to apply the solutions. They have to be simple as otherwise you are not going to stick to them. I know, as I am the same 😉 The practice has to be simple to help you create a daily ritual. The two effective ways for stopping sugar cravings are:

Proposal no 1

1. Buy high quality nettle in bulk (say 250 -500g). Prepare nettle infusion at night (see the recipe here), strain the liquid in the morning and drink three – four cups throughout a day. Just take it as a drink to work.

Nettle is a super nourishing herb, safe to drink daily for years. If bored, switch to either oat straw or dandelion infusion. (With time you can add more variety such as infusions from siberian ginseng, red clover, marigold etc). Nettle is rich in vitamins such as A, B, C, D, E, and K and loaded with calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron and so on.

Kids can also drink the daily infusion.

Proposal no 2

a) Eat a spoon of almond (peanut) butter once or twice daily. On bread, celery sticks, with carrots or whatever.

b) Eat a spoon of either soaked or pan fried sesame daily. The easiest way is to soak it in the evening and strain in the morning. Simply chew it. Alternatively, prepare sesame seeds in shakes and use it in your dishes. If possible, choose the black sesame.

Daily sesame seeds work well for kids.

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I personally drink four cups herbal infusions daily (nettle, dandelion, siberian ginseng, marigold, gotu kola etc; a combination of two at most) and eat sesame a few times per week. My sweet cravings are close to zero. My kids are easily satisfied with honey, some chocolate or a cookie.

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Photo copyright by Pamela Greer, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

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Other health-related posts

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sitting_kills

 

Sitting kills, who would say that?

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals is a title of a book by Joan Vernikos. It grabs my attention. Why? Because it is a light read with an important message.

Joan is an expert in stress and aging, a former director of Life Sciences at NASA. She was responsible for the health and well-being of the astronauts. It is known that astronauts suffer from a fast physical deterioration when in space. Their muscles become weaker and their immune system is compromised among many other symptoms. They basically experience symptoms of an advanced aging. Joan links these side effects to the lack of gravity.

She suggests that the same mechanism relates to the sedentary lifestyle. When we sit, we totally rely on a chair or couch and we find ourselves in a nearly anti-gravity pose. Joan recommends that we use gravity to our advantage by moving our body as often as possible. This doesn’t sound as anything new as we all know that right exercise promotes health.

The key lies in what we understand by the word “moving“.

Move, sweetheart, move

According to Vernikos exercising a few times a week will not help much if the remaining time is spent predominantly sitting. You will still experience physical deterioration. It is the everyday little movements, often and short, which interrupt sitting (or standing if one stands for long hours) that make the difference and promote health.

She discovers that the very act of standing up from a sitting position is very effective and beneficial for health. Her message is simple:

“Sitting is okay, but it’s uninterrupted sitting that is bad for us.” 

“We are not designed to sit continuously. […] It’s not how many hours of sitting that’s bad for you; it’s how often you interrupt that sitting that is good  for you!

Standing up once per hour is more effective than walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes for cardiovascular and metabolic changes. Sitting down and standing up continuously for 32 minutes does not have the same effect as standing up once, 32 times over the course of a day (the latter is far better).

It’s interesting, isn’t it? To get the benefit, the non-exercise activity has to be spread throughout the day.

This is not a new concept as many bodyworkers will say the same: we are designed to move, not to sit neither stand for long hours.

Why?

Because the balance of the body is constantly being achieved when we move. While the old paradigm views bones and muscles as the structure of a body, a new paradigm views bones as floating in the connective tissue. It’s the connective tissue, the “endless web” that connects and supports. Connective tissue, in response to movement, is the organizing factor of the structure.

In other words, health is not a fixed state, it is being achieved while body is moving. Moment by moment.

The movement we are taking about is the non-exercise movement, such as standing up, kneeling, stretching to reach a book on a shelf, vacuum cleaning, sweep brushing, chopping vegs, shredding cabbage, bending to wash a baby etc. These are all types of movements that were daily companions of our grandparents.

They should be ours as well!

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The work of Vernikos is not new per se. The importance of movement and gravity dates back to the work of Goldthwait in the beginning of the 20th century (see references below) and later to Ida Rolf. These ideas were however not appreciated, neither incorporated into the medical practice. Luckily, they are being used by bodyworkers.

It is only recently that the prolonged sitting has been brought to the public attention by a number of researchers. The book of Vernikos is important as she adds her unique perspective on the importance of challenging the gravity for our health. “These are all movements, almost below-threshold kind of movements, that do not burn up a lot of calories, as we know them, but that are designed to work against gravity”.

Connective tissue

Why the little frequent non-exercise movements are paramount comes as a consequence of the role of the connective tissue. I’ve been long fascinated by what knowledgeable bodyworkers can achieve in a short time. They use structural alignment and initiation of right processes in the body so that the body can self-align itself. 

Let me cite one of the books by Oschman that explains the importance of the connective tissue:

“The overall form of the body, as well as the architecture and mechanical and functional properties of all of its parts, are largely determined by the local configuration and properties of the connective tissue. All of the so-called great systems of the body […] are ensheathed in and partitioned by connective tissue. The connective tissue forms a continuously interconnected system throughout the living body. All movements, of the body as a whole and of its smallest parts, are created by tensions carried through the connective tissue fabric. It is a liquid crystalline material and its components are semiconductors…”

 

“Connective tissue structure is a record or memory of the forces imposed on the organism. This historical record has two components. The genetic part recapitulates the story of how our ancestors successfully adapted to the gravitational field of the earth. The acquired component is a record of the choices, habits, and traumas we have experienced during our individual lifetime. The collagen fibers orient in a way that can best support future stresses, assuming the organism continues the same patterns of movement or disuse.”

This all means that any injury, habitual or prolonged patterns (such as sitting) will be recorded into the connective tissue. In response, misaligned body leads to disturbance in patterns of neural activity, blood and lymph flow and muscular contraction. In a long term it will result in groups of immobilized and flaccid muscles that reduce nutrition and oxygenation of cells and tissues. The body becomes tense and then various health issues and diseases may arise.

It is the overall tension release and frequent non-exercise movements that contribute to our health, as any change in habits, even slight, will alter the connective tissue architecture.

 The data

Except of the importance of understanding the role of connective tissue, a physiology of inactivity comes to the surface. When you sit for long hours, your body does things that are bad for you.

For instance, consider LPL, lipoprotein lipase, which is a “fat-storing enzyme”.  It is produced by many tissues, including muscles, and it plays a key role in how body processes fat. LPL is significantly reduced during sitting (or inactivity), and increases with activity. It attaches to triglycerides from the blood and transports them to the muscles. It splits them into fatty acids, which are stored in fat cells.

Low levels of LPL are associated with a number of health problems, including heart disease. So, when you sit, your metabolism slows down (leg muscles don’t produce LPL). According to Vernikos, a very effective activity for the LPL surge is standing up from sitting.

Even though the studies are not very extensive yet, the data are clear. Too much sitting leads to increased risks of various diseases and premature death.

Chair is basically an enemy of your health.

  • A study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 41: 998-1005, Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer looked at the fates of more than 17000 Canadians over the span of 12 years. The results present a warning: the mortality risk from all causes was 1.54 times higher among people with daily sedentary lifestyle compared to those who sat infrequently

“Experimentally reducing normal spontaneous standing and ambulatory time had a much greater effect on LPL regulation than adding vigorous exercise training on top of the normal level of nonexercise activity. Those studies also found that inactivity initiated unique cellular processes that were qualitatively different from the exercise responses. In summary, […] the average nonexercising person may become even more metabolically unfit in the coming years if they sit too much, thereby limiting the normally high volume of intermittent nonexercise physical activity in everyday life.”

“Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, breast cancer, dementia and depression constitute a cluster of diseases, which defines ‘a diseasome of physical inactivity’. Both physical inactivity and abdominal adiposity, reflecting accumulation of visceral fat mass, are associated with the occurrence of the diseases within the diseasome.[…] Physical inactivity appears to be an independent and strong risk factor for accumulation of visceral fat, which again is a source of systemic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is involved in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration and tumour growth.[…]

The finding that muscles produce and release myokines provides a conceptual basis to understand the mechanisms whereby exercise influences metabolism and exerts anti-inflammatory effects. According to our theory, contracting skeletal muscles release myokines, which work in a hormone-like fashion, exerting specific endocrine effects on visceral fat. Other myokines work locally within the muscle via paracrine mechanisms, exerting their effects on signalling pathways involved in fat oxidation.”

  • There is also a study entitled Breaks in Sedentary Time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk in Diabetes Care Journal 2008, 31:4, 661-666, which provides evidence in favor of interrupting the sitting time frequently. A larger number of breaks are associated with better metabolic profiles, including waist circumference and glucose metabolism.

Take away message

 Even if you run every day or regularly work-out, it doesn’t matter much to your health if you spend most of the day sitting, be it your car, your office chair or your couch. You are at an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death.

In short:

Uninterrupted sitting kills you. Slowly. Very slowly. Before you notice. Tweet: Uninterrupted sitting kills you. Slowly. Very slowly. Before you notice. See http://www.elapekalska.com/5085/sitting-kills-moving-heals/

However …

You can change your lifestyle by incorporating a few simple steps that will improve your odds (of a good health) drastically:

  • Stand up frequently, ideally every 20-30min.
  • Move throughout the work day. Walk around, do some stretching or eye exercises, do a few squats, reach for a book, clean your desk, prepare your herbal infusion (such as nettle).
  • Stand or walk when you can. Do it when you are actively thinking, talking over phone or discussing an idea with others. You can also transform your desk to allow you to work while standing.
  • Sit on an exercise ball. It calls your core muscles for action and helps improve balance and flexibility.
  • Use a rocking chair while you relax, watch TV or read. Rocking chairs encourage the activity of your muscles. See e.g. this page or that article.
  • Reduce TV or computer time at home.
  • Practice stretching or core stability exercises.

Resources:

Books by Joan Vernikos:

Books by James Oschman:

Work of Goldthwait:

  • Body Mechanics and Health by Joel Ernest Goldthwait and Leah Coleman Thomas
  • “The Relation of Posture to Human Efficiency and the Influence of Poise Upon the Support and Function of the Viscera” by Joel Ernest Goldthwait in Boston Medical and Surgerical Journal 161: 839-848, 1909.

Books by Ida Rolf:

Connective tissue:

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Photo courtesy Dita Actor, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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nettle

Nettle, dear nettle

The power to live fully comes from whole, vibrant and nutrients dense food. One of my favorite food are herbs, and one of my favorite herbal allies is nettle (urtica dioica). Yes, indeed, this is the stinging nettle you know. The name “urtica” says it all – it comes from Latin meaning “I burn”.

Nettles grow like weeds throughout much of the world. They are very common both in north and middle Europe, growing in wild, abandoned places, close to old houses or compost piles. You can find them around swamps or waterways, off-beaten paths and in open areas of woodlands.

You can harvest them yourself in May and June and dry for your own use. Obviously you will need cotton gloves and long pants to spare yourself the stings. Once you collect your herbs, please carry them in a cotton bag and dry them in an airy room or a shed without a direct exposure to sunlight.

Energy packed drink

The dried nettles make a fantastic nourishing infusion. Such a drink offers more energy than coffee or other stimulants.

Who are the ones to benefit?

In fact, everybody, but especially all people on the-go. These are: sleep-deprived mothers, fast-paced businessmen, hard-working researchers, depressed or physically weak, reconvalescents, anxious kids or nervous teenagers. Wise people of all ages will love the nettle to nourish them, replenish their energy and calm the nerves.

Nettle leaves contain many active compounds. These are chlorophyll A and B, organic acids (such as glycolic acid, glyceric acid, formic acid, butyric acid, acetic acid  and silicic acid), flavonoids, tannins, carotenoids, phytosterols, xanthophyll, amine compounds (such as histamine , acetylcholine and serotonin) and various enzymes and plant hormones. The roots contain mostly organic acids, lecithin, waxes and mineral salts.

Urtica is truly rich in minerals and vitamins and in high amounts: the blood-building iron, restorative and bone mending calcium, anti-cancer selenium, immune-enhancing sulphur, memory-enhancing zinc, anti-diabetes chromium, or vision-aiding vitamin A, blood clotting vitamin K, and overall supportive vitamins B (B1, B2, B3, B5), immune-boosting vitamin C and antioxidant vitamin E. There is also manganese, silicon, phosphorous and some others.

The benefits of nettles

Urtica is mainly a medicinal plant which “cleans the blood”, or in other words, facilitates the body’s removal of all kinds harmful products of metabolism. But thanks to the high content of trace elements and vitamins it helps to streamline all metabolic processes. Nettle also increases blood levels of hemoglobin and red blood cell count, so they are of great help for anemics.

Nettle infusions prevent minor bleeding from capillaries in the gastrointestinal tract. This valuable herb stimulates the secretion of gastric juice and it is slightly bile-production enhancer. It also facilitates the assimilation of foods and lowers blood sugar levels. It inhibits inflammation in the urinary tract and gastrointestinal tract. It stimulates the immune system, increasing resistance to infection.

The preparations of the nettle leaves applied externally treat eczema, acne, or dermatitis. They strengthen the hair roots and nourish the skin. They activate the regeneration of the skin and accelerate wound healing.

In short, nettles are a powerhouse of nature. Just by inspecting the ingredients, you will find out that nettles are a great tonic to nearly all conditions. Moreover, they are safe to take for an extended periods of times. Daily.

The action of the nettle leaves is:
– diuretic (stimulate urination specifically aiding the elimination of uric acid)
– decongestant 
– anti-haemorrhagic (inhibit internal and external bleeding)
– stimulating blood circulation (warm the body up)
– hypoglycemic (lower blood sugar)
– anti-arteriosclerotic (stop the hardening of the arterial walls)
– detoxification
– hampering the creation of bladder stones
– regulating metabolism
– stimulating regeneration processes
– hematopoietic (increase the number of red blood cells and hemoglobin in the blood)
– lymphagogue (stimulate activity of the lymph system)
– tonic (nourish and tone the tissues, specifically those of the urinary system)

Indications:

– physical weakness
– lack of energy
– mental health
– metabolic disorders  
– swelling after exercise or as a result of hypertension
– urinary tract inflammation  
– tendency to hemorrhage
– circulatory disorders (cold hands and feet)
– anemia  
– chronic skin diseases
– chronic wounds  
– pancreatic disease  
– rheumatic diseases
– poisoning and detoxifying treatments
– weak immunity 
– diabetes
– eczema
– atherosclerosis
– thyroid problems (as suggested by the herbalist Mathew Wood)
– pregnancy tonic
– inducing lactation in nursing mothers
– slow growth of nails and hair 

 Are you somewhere on the list above? Choose the nettle to support you. Their cumulative effect builds over time.

Tea vs infusion

Forget the nettle teas – they are too weak to count for your health. The nettles used in the teas are often of too low quality and too much powdered. In such a form they have gone through too much heat and processing that removed much of their nutritional profile. Harvest your own nettles or buy them dried in bulk from respectful herbal shops.  Make your own infusions.  

The difference between a tea and infusion lies in the quality and quantity of herbs as well as the steeping time.

A tea is often steeped from low quality, nearly powdered herbs, for a short time, e.g. 5-10min. An herbal infusion offers a nutrients-dense drink. It is steeped (while covered) for at least 4h and often 6-8h. The time is necessary to extract the active compounds into the liquid. The lid is necessary to prevent the volatile ingredients from escaping. You need high quality herbs and in a relatively big amount. 

Nettle infusion

nettle_infusion5-6 table spoons of dried nettle leaves (or more for medicinal use, up to 30g)
1 liter boiling water

Put the dried nettles into a jar (I use kilner jars for all my herbs, but any jar capable of handling boiling water will do). Add the boiling water and cover the jar with lid. Steep it for 4-6h or overnight. Strain out the infusion and drink it during a day. It will not stay fresh for another day unless you store it in a fridge (where it may stay for one day). Some herbalist suggest to simmer the herbs for 5min first. I am not sure it is necessary.

The infusion is very dark in color, nearly black. It can perfectly help you start the day instead of coffee.

Note: If this is your first time to start on herbal infusions, start slowly. Use one or two table spoons first (per 1 liter) and slowly increase the amount of nettle over the following 7-10 days. Observe yourself. For the best benefits, drink it daily for at least 30 days.

Use smaller amounts of herbs for kids.  A rule of thumb would be to use 1/4 of the adult dose for kids age 3-7 (and 1/6-1/8 dose for smaller kids), 1/2 dose for kids below 15. Remember to start gently as kids respond faster to herbs than adults.

Nettle in the kitchen

Nettle work especially great in spring and are especially recommended for people over 40. The best is to make a juice from nettles. You need to drink it 2-3 times daily for two weeks, a spoonful of juice squeezed from a young nettle leaves. Nettles can be passed through a meat grinder or blender andsqueezed through cheesecloth, or by a slow masticating juicer (such as a fantastic Omega VRT350 Heavy Duty Juicer in the USA or Hurom in Europe), and the resulting juice stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a few days without preservatives.

There is also a fresh stinging nettle juice offered commercially by the German company Salus (Floradix). It can be bought here or there. Salus offers high quality juices from fresh plants. I have used a number of their products with good to great results.

You can eat a salad of finely chopped nettles, adding to it olive oil and salt. You can also use nettles in any meal or soup where spinach is called for. Heat and drying removes the stinging action and cooking for 10min will do so too.

In summary

Nettle seems rough and stinging, but this Lady is such a loving soul beneath. It is a true ally.

If there is one herb ever you would consider drinking and eating, choose this one! 

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This post is linked to Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.

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Photo courtesy wwarby available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

References: 

If you want to learn more about nettle the herbal books below are great: 

 
“The main medicinal uses of nettles historically were internally as a tonic and highly nutrient food, and treatment of the following conditions – anemia, rheumatism and arthritis, eczema and asthma, urinary ‘gravel’ and stomach complaints, skin infections, and as an ‘anti-haemorrhagic’. 
Nettles have also been traditionally used externally as a hair tonic/shampoo, locally applied styptic for nosebleeds and haemorrhoids, and stinging treatment (urtication) for arthritis and rheumatism.”
 
Polish references:
  • Rosliny lecznicze stosowane u dzieci, prof Waleria Olechowicz-Stepien, prof. Eliza Lamer-Zarawska
  • Ziola czynia cuda, Andrzej Skarzyński

Other health-related posts

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mrsa_naid

The title of this post comes from this article by Sarah Boseley, the Guardian.

 “Antibiotic resistance remains a major threat to public health around the world, and for the large part, the cause is misuse of antibiotics”, says the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Say it aloud: anti-biotics. The “anti” is the Greek word meaning “against”, while “bios” is life. Against life. (Now it’s clear what the name probiotics stands for too ;))

Antibiotics are the most commonly prescribed drugs nowadays. They fight bacterial infections, though they are useless against the viral ones. When used properly, antibiotics can save lives. When overused, antibiotics boost bacteria resistance to the levels that have not been known before. This poses a threat to our lives, especially when we are going through a treatment or operation in a hospital. According to the author of this book, over 70% of the pathogenic bacteria in hospitals are at least minimally resistant to antibiotics. I think the situation is more serious than we want to believe it is.

Bacteria

Bacteria were before us and have been with us for millennia. Bacteria are everywhere. We wear bacteria on our skin and in various places in the body. Some of them are essential for our well-being, such as the ones taking care that the food is properly digested. Some of them are harmless. Yet, some of them are like soldiers in the times of Peace, calm yet easily mobilized for an attack when the right opportunity comes. 

Bacteria may even “like us” as we have a symbiotic relation with them. They are often not dangerous until the time comes when the balance in the body is lost. This is often the case when the previous usage of antibiotics weakened the immune system and/or we have not taken sufficient care of ourselves. This happens when we sleep too little, stress and eat junk food, overwork ourselves, go through difficult transformations or crisis, or when we carry strong emotions and suppress them.

In the beginning, bacteria start slowly. There is just a feeling of some weakness, unease or perhaps extra tiredness. When ignored, bacteria multiply fast and soon they are well equipped for a full attack. You or your child are then suffering from an unstoppable dry/wet cough, catarrh and pain in the chest. After a few days you have had enough of it. You will go to the doctor (or a GP, as here in the UK). Of course, the traditional medical doctors are well trained in all main-stream approaches. They will often prescribe antibiotics.

Antibiotics

What will you do? If this is about yourself, perhaps you will wait for some more time and see how things develop. If this is about your child, well…, you may become scared. In your best will, you will subscribe to the authority of the profession, the anointed wise men, chosen to guide towards the vibrant health. You will follow the doctor’s prescription. Of course, this is the antibiotic of the new generation, 100x better and stronger than the old penicillin.

Oh, how wonderful! How great is its working!

The missile attack of this new generation destroys everything alive inside the body, killing all the bacteria, even the beneficial ones. The antibiotic is strong. Perhaps too strong. It has worked well, it seems. 

Now your good flora is wiped out from the digestive tract and you become more susceptible to invasive pathogens. This may sound acceptable to sacrifice the good bacteria for the highest good (survival) in order to kill the evil ones, but ….Do you realize that the strength of your immune system is directly correlated to the healthy gut? 

And there it comes. Your intestines allow more and more toxins to go in your blood stream because they don’t have enough good bacteria to fight against. This leads to a weakened immune system and severe gut inflammation. So, soon comes an era of thrush, candida overgrown or another microorganism enjoying the clean space in your gut. Now, the doctor will prescribe another medicine which will kill all the fungi invaders. However, the war is not over. These will soon be replaced by the new, mutated bacteria which were smart enough to hide in the dark bunkers of your body.

While your body was busy to counterbalance the die-off of the fungi, the survivor bacteria were fiercely working underground, preparing for the new forms of attack. Surely, the information from the antibiotic was available so they worked hard to incorporate these traits to their DNA so that they could misguide the antibiotics of the new generation. They have adopted their DNA and cell boundaries and will soon begin a new attack. They are now wiser, stronger and better equipped.

And you or your child, their lovely hosts, will welcome them back. Why? Because your gut is unprepared for an invasion. Your cough is impossible to stop, the head is shouting from pain, the phlegm is everywhere, and you are incredibly weak.

You go to the medical doctor or a GP again and get the third antibiotic this autumn/winter. Because, obviously the previous ones have not done the job sufficiently well. And, let’s hope the winter is severe enough to kill the bad bacteria. But … there are bacteria which survive all hard conditions, even severe cold. They awake refreshed in spring, looking for new hosts.

Gut and antibiotics resistance

To understand the antibiotics resistance, please read the Molecular Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance report by Powell.

A few citations from Herbal antibiotics:

“The fairly recent discovery that all of the water supplies in the industralized countries are contaminated with the minute amounts of antibiotics (from their excretion into water supplies) means that bacteria everywhere are experiencing low doses of antibiotics all the time.”

“Once in the presence of antibiotic, [even in low doses] a bacterium’s learning rate immediately increases by several orders of magnitude.”

“As bacteria gain resistance, they pass that knowledge on to all forms of bacteria they meet. They are not competing with each other for resources, as standard evolutionary theory predicted, but rather prominiscouosly cooperate in the sharing of the survival information.”

“Bacteria can share the resistance information directly or simply extrude it from their cells. They often experiment, combining resistance information from multiple sources in unique ways that increase resistance, generate new resistance pathways or even stimulate resistance to the antibiotics that they have never encountered before.”

Two quotes form this short article:

“The new ECDC data shows a significant rise over the last four years of combined resistance to multiple antibiotics in Klebsiella pneumoniae and E. coli, in more than one-third of the EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries.”

“K pneumoniae is a Gram-negative bacterium, that normally lives harmlessly in the gut, but is increasingly showing up as a harmful “superbug” causing urinary, respiratory tract and bloodstream infections, particularly in hospital settings where it spreads rapidly among patients via the hands of healthcare workers and is a frequent cause of hospital outbreaks.”

A citation from the Gut and psychology syndrome book:

“Just like Candida Albicans, the Clostridia family was given a special opportunity by the era of antibiotics, because Clostridia are also resistant to them. So, every course of broad spectrum antibiotics removes good bacteria, which leaves Clostridia uncontrolled and allows it to grow. Different species of Clostridia cause severe inflammation of the digestive system, for example Clostridium Dificile causes a potentially fatal pseudo-membranous colitis. Some species of Clostridia have been linked to such debilitating digestive disorders as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.”

Think it twice, think it 5x!

There are times when there is no discussion whether antibiotics should be taken or not. Antibiotics are to save lives. Yet, in the age of antibiotic’s overuse and hardly any new antibiotic development (financially uninteresting to the big pharma), I encourage you to think 5x before you will take an antibiotic. Perhaps your taking it for a relatively mild condition will add to the boost of bacteria resistance, while your gut flora will suffer. 

Do you really, really, desperately need it to save your life???

Please realize that antibiotic-resistant infections and “super bugs” are becoming a huge challenge to standard medicine. Diseases that were easily treated by antibiotics, say tuberculosis, are not any longer. The bacteria become more and more resistant.

Before using antibiotics, I encourage you to learn about options, alternatives and side-effects. This is your homework as very few traditional medical doctors will consider alternatives for you. In many cases, they even cannot because there are regulations they have to follow.

Over the years you have consumed, ether consciously or not, sufficient doses of penicillin and related antibiotics, macrolides, antifungals and so on. This is not only through taking medicines, but perhaps, more importantly, it is through the tiny doses that come from the consumption of dairy, meat and fish, yet accumulate over the years.

The book

I highly recommend the Herbal antibiotics book by Stephen Harrod Buhner which can be bought at Amazon or BookDepository (ships worldwide for free). Buy the version from 2012, not from 2000 if possible. This book is not yet translated to other languages. 

This is a well-written and researched book on herbal alternatives (teas, tinctures or infusions) for treating drug-resistant bacteria. The book is scientific at times and not an easy read, but it is not meant to be such. The book is meant to be a practical reference for self-help or in times of crisis.

While the subject of antibiotic-resistance is alarming, the author is not spreading any fear. Instead, he focuses on facts. These facts are clearly presented and supported by available research and study (and obviously Buhner’s long-life experience as a medical herbalist); an enormous amount of references is given for a diligent reader. Buhner comes with extremely valuable information on the use of herbs. He also discusses potential side-effects or cross-references with other drugs. He presents detailed profiles of thirty herbs and their actions. 

Many of the herbs described (although not all) can be grown in your garden or balcony, others can be bought in health food shops or online, either raw or as teas, tinctures and oils. The home remedy recipes are easy to follow and prepare, given that you have the ingredients first. 

Are your ready for the world without antibiotics?

I am. The knowledge of Buhner has potentially saved my kids from taking the antibiotics twice over the last few months.

Highly recommended!

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Photo shows “Interaction of MRSA (green bacteria) with a human white cell. The bacteria shown is strain MRSA252, a leading cause of hospital-associated infections in the United States and United Kingdom.” Photo courtesy NIAID available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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Useful resources:

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sesame_seeds2

Burnout or being overtired is usually a consequence of a long term busyness, overwork, stress or trauma.

First, we run until our batteries are empty. Then, we still run on air on our drive. Next, we run because we are in motion and have got used to it. And then, we run because we have forgotten how to stop.

Finally, we run until there is not only no fuel, but also no inner resources left. What follows then is an experience of collapse. A small one or a big one.

We have run ourselves out.

We may have become indifferent. To ourselves, family or  life.  

We may have encountered a loss. Of a friend, job or house.

We may have developed a physical problem or a serious illness. We may have become obese, got a herniated disc, developed indigestion or migraines or experienced shooting pains in the body. 

We may have become depressed.

And so on.

Exhaustion is the result of pushing the pendulum on one side only. It cannot go forever, though.

There is no quick solution to burnout but teaching yourself how to live in balance. Balance is the key to an optimal well-being.

Food

A substantial part of energy comes from food so eating the right way is essential. What is right, however, is not so obvious.

Many experts want us to believe that their diet is the only solution to optimal health. Multiple testimonials seem to provide the necessary proof of principle. The challenge is that many of the proposals have good arguments in favor, yet they cannot all be true.  One pair of contradictory approaches is the raw food diet vs cooked food diet.

The advocates of the first approach recommend to eat all food in their raw form (uncooked), mainly vegetables, fruits and nuts. Some eat only fruits and nuts. Others include raw eggs, milk and raw meat. The main arguments evolve around eating nutrition-dense, alive and plant-based food.

The advocates of the other approach, e.g. the Chinese cuisine, encourage to eat cooked meals, oftentimes balancing their tastes and energies well. The main arguments evolve around warming up and toning the body.

I experimented with both approaches and found that the extremes were not my solution. While eating plenty raw food is essential, similarly is eating nutritious well cooked dishes such as soups (e.g. traditional Polish soups). 

I have found an optimal balance for myself between the raw and cooked food. The proportions are not fixed but change in relation to the season, country of living, and locally available food.

There are many possibilities to prepare nutritious meals yourself in 10-30min given that you educate yourself how to do it. It is much better to make a simple salad than to eat burgers, chips or ready-to-go meals from supermarkets or fast foods.

Sesame seeds

We need nutrients and minerals but the ones which are organic and natural. Both herbs and seeds are powerful nutrition plants. They can greatly influence health, while being easily added to meals. No hassle, really.

Sesame seeds and, especially, black sesame seeds are my all time favorite for regeneration. Black sesame seeds are also more aromatic than their white counterparts. They have rich, nutty, somewhat sweet flavor. Very deep.

Sesame seeds are full of nutrients and minerals, but black sesame seeds contain much, much more. They may be used to help you recover from serious illnesses and alinements or treat constipation.

The benefits of black sesame seeds are briefly summarized below.  Check the nutritional data here and see also an example biochemical analysis of the hulled sesame seeds there.

  1. Black sesame seeds contain a substantial amount of calcium, more than most other food (per unit weight), easily digestible (after soaking, of course). If you lack calcium or suffer from sweet cravings (which indicate the lack of calcium), sesame seeds is your answer. Not milk or cheese, but black sesame. 
  2. They contain high amounts of copper, manganese, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.
  3. Black sesame seeds contain vitamins B1 and E.
  4. The seeds are protein dense, hence invaluable for all types of protein shakes.
  5. They are high in amino acids, which are building blocks of proteins and play important roles in the metabolism.
  6. The seeds have lignans, including a unique content of sesamin, which are phytoestrogens with antioxidant,  anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Antioxidants are anti-aging and are well-known for combating free radicals in our bodies. In addition, Sesamin also reduces cholesterol. Read more here.

Black sesame seeds act powerfully on many organs in the body. They strengthen the liver and kidneys, as well as heart, spleen and lungs. They act as a general tonic in the body, balancing the endocrine system. This is of course a great feature for those who over-play with their hormonal balance (too much work, too little sleep, too many projects, too much stress, etc).

Black sesame seeds are also very beneficial in all conditions where constipation occurs and deficient body fluids exist. They simply increase the body fluids and help bowel movements, so much needed in case of prolonged stress or exhaustion.

As a bonus, black sesame seeds can regrow your hair from gray to black. I have not checked it yet but I will sure do when the time comes. Or, perhaps, I will not get them as I consume the seeds regularly. 

PRECAUTION:

Avoid sesame seeds in case of diarrhea or watery stools.
Avoid black sesame seeds when you have too much iron. You can still eat white sesame seeds.

Buy sesame seeds

Whole, dried black sesame seeds are available at whole food shops, herbal shops and Asian markets. They can also be bought on EbayAmazon and other online shops.

Prepare sesame seeds 

Sesame seeds contain a high amount of the anti-nutrient phytic acid. Therefore, as any seed, it is necessary for them to be soaked or pan roasted before eating. The best way is to soak them overnight (they need 8h) and lightly pan roast before grinding. Additional grinding makes them more digestible.

Soaking

  • Measure 1 cup of sesame seeds. Rinse it. 
  • Put the sesame seeds into a bowl. Add 2 cups of water.
  • Cover your bowl with a cotton towel or other breathable fabric. Let it stand in room temperature for 4h.
  • Drain the water out of your sesame seeds. Rinse them.
  • Return the seeds to the bowl and add 2 cups of water. Cover the bowl.  Soak it in the room temperature for the next 4h.
  • Drain the water out of your sesame seeds. They are ready to eat.

You can simplify the above procedure by soaking the seeds 8h straight without additional rinsing.

Roasting

Stir-fry the sesames seeds in a dry pan over low heat for approximately 5 minutes or until the heat releases their fragrance. Avoid burning the seeds. You can also roast them in butter or ghee.

How to eat sesame seeds?

You can use sesame seeds in versatile ways. The easiest way is to make a smoothie with them or sprinkle your salads. You can add them to:

  • smoothies 
  • protein drinks or shakes
  • salads
  • sushi or fish 
  • white beans or lightly cooked or raw vegetables
  • rice, millet or buckwheat (it’s a great combination!)
  • poultry
  • desserts

They taste great an they add lots of flavor. This works especially well with food which is somewhat plain in taste such as rice, beans, some fish (e.g. cod). For myself, I can add them to nearly any meal, even buttered onions or sausages. I simply love them!

My sesamy delicious drink:

  • 1 table spoon of black sesame seed (soaked overnight and roasted)
  • some cinnamon
  • 0.5-1 cup of milk (goat is preferred, but any milk will do)

Put all the ingredients into a blender and blend it well. Note that you need a powerful blender to make it a smooth drink. Any blender will suffice, however, if either you are willing to cope with parts of seeds in your drink, or you strain it.

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It is high time to make an effort in the direction of conscious eating. Don’t leave it to chance.

Choose.

You can start simple with black sesame seeds. You will love them.

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Photo courtesy Rick available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

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Other health-related posts

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